YVO’S SHORTIES #71 – Big Little Lies & Outlander

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books I have been meaning to read for a long time and finally decided to read in 2018. Both turned out to be more than pleasant surprises! Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.


Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: July 29th 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: December 23rd 2018
Pages: 460

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”


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I’ve been meaning to read another Liane Moriarty book for a long time, and I’m probably the last person on earth to finally pick up Big Little Lies. I kind of picked it up on a whim while browsing my kindle, and I definitely not regret making that decision. There is no doubt that Liane Moriarty knows how to write an intriguing mystery that goes out with a huge bang. I liked how she kept what happened that fatal night a secret in such a way that you don’t have a clue about the who or why until the final bombshell is dropped. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming! The plot is both intricate and well constructed and part of the reason this story is such a success. I liked the idea of following the three main characters is the weeks before the incident, especially since they are mixed with those police interview bits to keep you intrigued and curious about what happened. You will be on the edge of your seat until you find out all the details! I wasn’t sure about every character, but their development is without doubt very well done. Each character has its own background and problems, and while there were a few cliches involved, I could really appreciate the abuse angle and the necessary attention it brings to the fact it ‘can happen to anyone’. There is a lot of drama and some of it was a bit farfetched, but the ending definitely makes up for it. All in all Big Little Lies was a success for me and I’ll be looking forward to watching the TV adaptation.


Title: Outlander
(Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
First published: June 1st 1991
Publisher: Dell
Finished reading: December 28th 2018
Pages: 866

“Sometimes our best actions result in things that are most regrettable. And yet you could not have acted otherwise.”


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I have been meaning to read Outlander for years now, but both the sheer size of the books and the fact that I wasn’t sure the story would be for me made me hesitate for a long time. I don’t mind big books if they are good, but I feared there would be way too much romance involved for me to tolerate… But Outlander turned out to be the exception to that rule. Once I finally started reading and finished the first few chapters, I knew Outlander and me were going to get along just fine. All in all it took me about a week to finish it, which is not bad at all for such a beast of a book… And I had a surprisingly good time with it as well. Why surprisingly, would you say? Well, there are a lot of sexy scenes involved in Outlander, something that normally makes me drop a book like hot coals and discard it right away. They still made me cringe at points (adult content just isn’t for me ladies!), but the rest of the story was intriguing enough for me to tolerate them. The writing is excellent and the worldbuilding is sublime. I really felt like I were in Scotland myself along with the main characters; the descriptions of both the time period and surroundings extremely well done. The time travel aspect is also very interesting, especially since it comes back repeatedly in for example Claire’s profession as a nurse in the 20th century. I really liked Jamie as a character and while Claire can be exasperating at points, she does make for a good story. The story flowed well and managed to keep my attention all the way to the end. I’m definitely glad I finally give in and read Outlander, and I will be looking forward to read the sequel this year.


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ARC REVIEW: The Echo Room – by Parker Peevyhouse

Title: The Echo Room
Author: Parker Peevyhouse
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: September 11th 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Finished reading: August 3rd 2018
Pages: 320

“He’d known other empty places, knew how quickly they could fill with dread.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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When I first saw this book mentioned, I was immediately intrigued by both cover and blurb. There is just something about it that sounds dark and menacing; the promise of a very good dark thriller, especially with the potential amnesia angle. What I can say is that The Echo Room definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s one of those books that either works for you, or it doesn’t… And sadly I belong to the second group. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to avoid ruining surprises, but let’s just say it’s more appropriate to call The Echo Room a science fiction read rather than a dark thriller. And I think I appreciated the whole idea behind this book a lot better than reading the actual story. There is no doubt that the author has thought up something really inventive and has come up with an original way to tell this story. Like the main characters, we are completely left in the dark about crucial information that would make it easier to understand what is really going on… While this can add a lot of intrigue when done right, I don’t think I actually appreciated this technique in The Echo Room. I mostly felt the story was too vague and strange to be actually able to connect to it. I wasn’t sure about the writing either, as the chapters just felt way too repetitive and didn’t manage to keep me interested. Like I said before, I understand the reason behind this repetition and I find the idea itself ingenious; I just didn’t enjoy actually reading it. I had problems with the main characters as well… Especially Rett came over as a bit whiny. Overall I thought The Echo Room was based on a very ingenious and inspiring idea, but unfortunately I liked the idea of this book a lot better than reading the actual story. This might just have been because The Echo Room simply isn’t for me, so if you are into science fiction and don’t mind repetition, you might just have a blast reading this one.

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When Rett wakes up on the floor of a cold and dark room, he doesn’t know where he is or how he got there. The worst part is that he is locked in… and he is not alone. A girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him, and neither trusts the other. Instead of working together, they each try to find out what is really happening and how to get out… They realize they will have to work together if they ever want to escape, but can they really trust each other?

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If you like science fiction, are looking for something different and don’t mind repetition in the plot, you will probably enjoy The Echo Room a lot better than I did. I still really like the idea behind this story, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy actually reading it. Between the lack of crucial information, repetitive chapters and lack of connection to the story and characters I had a hard time making it to the final page, although things did improve later on. The story was just too strange and vague for me… But like I said before, the problem might just have been me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #33 – Slaughterhouse-Five & Crochet Animal Rugs

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different titles. The first a modern classic I finally came around reading: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I can’t say it was for me, but I’m glad I did finally read it. The second is a non fiction crafts and hobbies book I just had to request to learn more about those adorable crochet patterns: Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott. If you are looking for a great gift or inspiration to decorate your kid’s bedroom, you will be in for a treat!


Title: Slaughterhouse-Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
First published: 1969
Publisher: The Dial Press
Finished reading: July 11th 2018
Pages: 285

“It was true. So it goes.”


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I’ve had this modern classic on my TBR for years and years, but somehow I never actually picked it up. I had heard it had a WWII angle, so I thought it would be the right fit for me, but what I didn’t realize was that there was going to be a lot of science fiction and time travel involved. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind those elements when done right, but it can come as a bit of shock if you are not expecting it. I think Slaughterhouse-Five and me simply got off on the wrong foot. So it goes. It’s not the story, it’s most likely me that’s the problem here. So it goes. While I can completely understand why so many people have so much love for this story, and I can also understand why this is a modern classic, somehow this story just didn’t work for me. I highly enjoyed the historical aspect of the story and the parts set during WWII. I could have handled the time travel elements as well, since they do add dept to the story… But add aliens to the mix and sign me out. So it goes. This story was just too much for me to handle; without doubt another sign I should try to stay away from science fiction or at least investigate more thoroughly before actually picking up a title. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we? So it goes… At least I’m glad I did give Slaughterhouse-Five a chance.


Title: Crochet Animal Rugs
Author: Ira Rott

Genre: Non Fiction, Crafts And Hobbies
First published: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Sewandso
Finished reading: July 15th 2018
Pages: 144

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Sewandso in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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Ever since I discovered crochet last year, I’ve been on the look out for new ideas and patterns to try out. As soon as I saw the adorable rug and pillow on the cover of Crochet Animal Rugs, I just knew I had to know more about these patterns. And I have to say they are absolutely adorable. If you are looking for interesting and cute patterns to brighten up your child’s bedroom or gift something adorable to someone else, you will be in for a treat. There are patterns for beginners as well as advanced crocheters, indicated accordingly. There is even advice for left-handed crocheters like myself, which is highly appreciated. This book uses US terminology, but there are useful conversion charts included if you need to convert to different terminology. In the back, stitches are explained clearly with pictures, helping you understand which is which. Also, the making of eyes and bows are explained separately as well as basic pillow shapes. That and other crochet techniques and other ideas of using the patterns. I love the idea of the wall decorations! My absolute favorite of the patterns is between the elephant rug and pillow, and I love the kitty cat placemat and rug as well. The crab security blanket is adorable and the dinosaur theme perfect for a little boy! There is definitely a lot to love in this crochet book.


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ARC REVIEW: Reincarnation Blues – by Michael Poore

Title: Reincarnation Blues
Author: Michael Poore

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Finished reading: August 12th 2017
Pages: 384

“Death was a door. You went through it over and over, but it still terrified people.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Del Rey Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!

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Milo has been reincarnated nearly 10.000 times when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection so he can become part of the Oversoul. He is not sure he truly wants this though because it might affect his relationship withhis one true love: Death herself. They only see each other in between lives and he can’t imagine having to continue without her… But Milo doesn’t seem to have any other option than to try his best, because if he doesn’t get it right before the deadline, his soul will vanish forever. His lives take him from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day in the hope of finally living that perfect life. Will he be able to reach that goal in time?

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Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.


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ARC REVIEW: Americosis Vol. 3 – by Haydn Wilks

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Title: Americosis Vol. 3
Author: Haydn Wilks

Genre: Short Stories, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 21st 2016
Publisher: Dead Bird Press
Finished reading: January 6th 2017
Pages: 60
Rating 3,5qqq

“Disuse. Disrepair. Despair. Three words that sum up the country three-and-a-half hundred million Americans are now living in.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read the first two parts of this ongoing short story series by Haydn Wilks some time last year, and in the month in between I had forgotten just how weird and messed up they were. Because there is just no other way to describe Americosis other than call it absolute MADNESS. This third part follows yet again the various different storylines and is literally packed with action and descriptions of this crazy dystopian world. A bunch of different things are happening all at once in this extreme version of the US: a weird sexually transmitted disease taking over, aliens, time travel, violent attacks… The writing is very explicit and direct, and the sheer crazyiness of it all just draws you into the story straight away. The Savior bit of this third volume didn’t feel as strong as the previous two, but maybe it just was because he didn’t feel as present. If you are looking for something different and fullblown crazy dystopian, definitely check the Americosis volumes out. Slight warning: it is an ongoing series and the volumes have no proper ‘ending’, so you will be left wondering what happens next after each volume.

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Things are just getting more and more out of hand… Detroit is currently burning, and crazed buck naked freaks with crescent moon scars carved into their cheeks are everywhere, attacking people and biting whole faces off. The police and government are having a hard time keeing things under control… Is the madness finally winning? And what about the Savior and Libby, currently stuck in a time loop and lost in the desert?

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Americosis is without doubt the most crazy and messed up series I’ve been reading to this date. It is so full of madness and crazy events that the story is starting to grow on you, although I wish each volume wouldn’t stop right in the middle of the action without proper ending. The cliffhangers do help making you wonder just by how much the madness will increase next time… This story isn’t for everyone and you have to be in the mood to absorb such a high dose of crazy, but the right person will fall in love with the Americosis volumes.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Time Machine – by H.G. Wells

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Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: 1895
Finished reading: May 17th 2016
Pages: 104
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“We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow. With out them we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence. ”

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I normally seem to be having a love/hate relationship when it comes to classics, but since I have been wanting to read The Time Machine for a while now and I needed more classics for a challenge I decided to give it a go anyway. This story set in the year 802.701 AD is without doubt a quick read and and has an interesting vision of the future, especially when you keep in mind the story was written in the 19th century. Still, I’m having mixed feelings about this time travel story. I felt the story was a bit too ‘communist’ to my taste. Why? It almost seemed like H.G. Wells was promoting communism by showing that the seemingly rich and priviledged Eloi are actually quite weak and the ‘lower’ Morlocks are more technically advanced because of the simple need to adapt to a complicated situation. The quote above shows this quite well… I’m not saying the political theme is necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I expected and I’m still not sure what to think of it. And I didn’t enjoy the descriptions of the part where he travels towards the final moments of the Earth as much as his first time travel adventure either. Still, I can’t deny the story in general reads fast and is quite entertaining if you can get past the political theme. The descriptions of this future are without doubt interesting!

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A Victorian scientist calls himself the Time Traveller as he tries to convince his friends that he was finally able to build a working time machine. They all seem a bit skeptic and don’t believe him, until the day that his time machine vanishes from sight. It seems like time travelling is indeed possible! He takes himself to the year 802.701 AD, and soon finds out life is completely different then. The Time Traveller has a hard time communicating with the inhabitants of this strange future, but he is happy to see that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. But soon enough he starts to discover that the Eloi people are not as advanced as they might seem and are in fact quite weak. The Eloi are afraid of the dark, and with reason, because beneath their paradise live the Morlocks hidden in the deep tunnels. They have evolved in order to survive under the complicated circumstances in the tunnel, and now hunt the very people that used to control them…

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While I liked the general descriptions of The Time Machine and it was interesting to read a vision of the future that was written over one hundred years ago, I still have mixed thoughts about this read. The main problem I had involves the political theme, which I thought distracted the attention from an otherwise entertaining sci-fi time travel story. I won’t be saying this classic is a must read, but it is an interesting enough read if you like these kind of stories and quite short as well.

BOOK REVIEW: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century – by Rachel Harris

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Title: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
(My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
First published: September 11th 2012
Finished reading: December 12th 2015
Pages: 264
Rating 2,5qqq

“I’m supposed to learn something. A lesson, like in some teenybopper show. I stare at the door and wait for Miley Cyrus to come barreling in, singing tunelessly about our pasts being the key to our futures.”

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I have to admit I only picked up a copy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century because I needed a book set in the sixteenth century to complete a challenge. I like time travel books in general, but this first novel of a series just sounded too much like a romance/chick lit story to my taste. While this novel by Rachel Harris turned out to be slightly better than expected, I still cannot say I have actually enjoyed reading it. The setting in sixteenth century Italy is without doubt interesting and I liked how the author tried to demostrate the clashes between two different eras in the prose. Still, I can’t say I actually liked the characters OR the way they behaved in general. A mayor part of the plot and characters was either cliche or not really original. Also, the prose felt almost forced-funny at points… It was quite a quick read and I suppose it will work perfectly as a beach read as long as you are not expecting too much. Personally, I wouldn’t actually continue this series though.

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Cat Crawford doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlights as her mother and her bubbly stepmother do, but somehow they are going to throw and extravagant gala for her sixteenth birthday. Cat is desperate to find a way to stop the gala, and even forced her father to go on a trip to Florence, Italy as a peace offering. Her mother is Italian, and Cat is excited to be discovering more about her past. But when she enters an unusual gypsy tent, she suddenly comes really close to her ancestors. When she exits the tent, she walks right into Renaissance Firenze. She still has her backpack full of future gadgets, but is forced to live the life of a sixteenth century teenager… Complete with new relatives and a gorgeous teenage artist to distract her. Will she be able to learn the lessons she needs to learn and find her way back to the future?

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The summary of this novel sounds quite interesting, but after seeing the cover and some of the reviews I was already expecting My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century wouldn’t be for me. Why did I pick it up, would you say? I had trouble finding another title set in the sixteenth century, so I was keeping my fingers crossed this one wouldn’t be that bad. All in all this novel isn’t horrible and I give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not exactly a great read either. The prose, characters and plot all lack that extra something that makes a story into something really good.